“I don t cook for your eyes. Of course my dishes have to look good, but I cook for your taste.”
I had heard about restaurant Via long time ago. I visited it twice and I was extremely impressed. I began to search information about the restaurant, to convince myself that I wasn’t subjective. So I read what has written Adi Hadean, Liviu Alexa and of course the recommendations on TripAdvisor. All of them were extremely eulogistic, so this confirmed me that my opinions were based on serious arguments.
At the wine tasting (thanks Ioana) there was also Náday Egon, the chef from Via. So the whole night was prolonged with discussions about a series of Romanian and international culinary aspects, wines and combination of flavours. I asked him to have a meeting in order to realize an interview and you can see the result below.
From the almost 3 hours spent in the restaurant and in the kitchen from via, I extracted a small part which I wanted to share with you.
AC: Tell me some things about you, how did you get to Romania?
NE: I have been cooking for almost 25 years, are you sure you want the entire story ? Somewhere around 27 I went to USA where I began to work in different restaurants, some of them very famous, I had also my own restaurant. Then I came back to Hungary and I saw the Via’s announce on Internet. At the beginning I didn’t pay attention but then I saw some pictures, I loved it and I accepted the offer.
AC: Why Romania?
NE: I like challenges, I had that desire to try new things and it was much closer to home.
AC: Have you been before to Romania ?
NE: I’ve been in Romania long time ago, somewhere in the 80’s. I had some friends in Targu Mures and I had visited them.
AC: What’s the reason of choosing to become a chef?
NE: Cooking is an art, people said this before, but I totally agree. Cooking is a combination of feelings and emotions but in the same time it can’t be possible without a lot of analysis and reasoning. If you do it the way it has to be done, it can bring you satisfaction. But if you do it as any other work, it can be very tiring. TV shows can make you imagine how it feels like to be in a kitchen, but the difference between it and real life is very huge.
AC: You said that cooking has to be done correctly. What’s the right way in this case?
NE: A very simple way with one secret: lots of high-quality ingredients. Any digression from this secret makes you resort to all sorts of tricks, with a completely different result. Further on, you just have to know the basic rules and to be very well organised.
AC: What’s special about Via ?
NE: We don’t use tricks and we don’t try to fool our clients. What you order is what you’ll get. We use the best ingredients and the freshest products. This, along with a flawless preparation technique will bring you in the plate the most exquisite dishes.
AC: Do you buy local products? From where do you choose your ingredients?
NE: Unlike other countries where I worked, in Romania is very hard to find the suitable suppliers, especially in a system that hardly works. I had some problems concerning the identification of the most efficient and responsible suppliers. About the local products, we try to do this as much as possible.
AC: Do you have a favourite dish from the menu?
NE: I don’t have a favourite one, nor one that I most like cooking.. The majority of the chefs would answer your question with a dish. But why would I prefer to cook a fish instead of a chicken breast? What’s the difference?
AC: How do you keep the quality of the products and still serve on time?
NE: We start cooking in the moment in witch we receive the order from the waiter. As I said before, we don’t use tricks and we want to offer dishes at highest level. For example, it takes more than 30 minutes for the beef to be ready, that’s why sometimes it could take almost an hour to receive your order.
Beyond these discussions, I had the opportunity to see closer how the food is cooked, how is stored and how the kitchen of a “fine dining” restaurant type looks like. All the things said above by the chef are according to reality: when an order arrives, it’s taken and prepared in that moment. The vegetables have not already been chopped (as I saw in other kitchens), the fruits are fresh and the cookies look like fresh out of the oven.
At Adi I’ve seen also the beef steak with mashed potatoes, about which I was very curious to see how the chef manages to obtain that almost perfect pinky colour from the middle of the beef. Well, the meat is initially seared on the outside and then tenderized in the oven.
… served with horseradish cream (prepared 3 days ahead), with a smooth, buttery texture and a sharp, biting aroma.
… the final result looks like:
I had also a special treatment; Naday Egon prepared a grilled Dorada especially for me, spiced with salt and pepper.
… and a delicious salad with seasoned vegetables and thai sauce. A refreshing and healthy combination, simple and aromatic in the same time.
The house in which the restaurant is, it’s an architectural monument of the eighteenth century, placed in the historical area of Cluj-Napoca, which became pedestrian, near the fortress’s wall. I’ll come back with some pictures from the restaurant (you can find some on the site), but I especially liked downstairs room, perfect for a romantic dinner or an intimate evening among friends.
Simple and sophisticated, nicely designed and balanced, Via restaurant has raised the standards for the restaurants from Cluj. I really liked and I would like to hear your opinions. Did you liked Via?